The Balance: Gifting & Receiving Are Both Ways of Doing
Gifting & Receiving Are Both Ways of Doing
Canyon Updates & Ponderings
by Jesse Wolf Hardin – Anima School & Sanctuary
“Thank you for all you offer to the world!. Please do take time to tend to your own basic needs, to relax, to play, to enjoy the company of your loved ones, to create spontaneously, to listen quietly to the voice of life in this moment.” -Lauren S.
Today I would like to briefly address the uses of our mortal hours, the balance of giving and receiving, rest and effort, in the context of this Anima update. It is certainly true that we have not found the time for relaxation that we had hoped for following a Summer of wildfire and a wonderful conference, as much as we agree with our caring friend Lauren’s hopes we can find the time. Unslackened has been the stream of projects much needed by the world as well as of so much satisfaction to me, and relentless both the joy and stress that accompany them. The work of the upcoming 2012 event began immediately after getting home from the 2011 TWHC, as we strove to select the teacher’s and classes that would go best in this year’s magical recipe (preferably without hurting any feelings, though it seems it’s not always possible, no matter how hard we try). It’s actually been quite an effort just to get back to and acknowledge important companeros and allies like Nick and Marcus, go over new student applications or respond to the up to 50 emails a day that come in to our various addresses. With Loba tending the land, our bellies and Rhiannon’s home school, Kiva and I try to take care of all the rest, including the two blogs and rewriting, recreating, and just now uploading the latest revised 2012 TWHC Website.
Readers of Kiva’s Medicine Woman’s Roots Blog will see a a great new post by her, not just for herbalists. And you will now see a new header and subtitle: “A Feral Approach To Midwidery, the Folk Herbalism Revolution and Living On The Land.” Never one to mince words, Kiva has overcome the doldrums by redefining her mission and work closer to what she has always felt and enjoyed. Expressing the wild joy and deep connection that she feels with plants, daring to broach controversial subjects that may make some uncomfortable, and unleashing her feral (rewilded) self in her posts and Plant Healer Magazine has rebooted and reframed her efforts, setting fire to her excitement again. It still won’t be stillness or stress-less this way, but it can be satisfying.
As any herbalist or healer knows, stress comes with pleasurable events as well as unpleasant, with doing certain things that feel great as well as those we might wish we could avoid. For me, the greatest stress is always over what I cannot make happen, rather than even the most tragic or difficult of events. But another that is hard on nearly everyone, is the stress of anxiety as something unseen or as-yet unarrived threatens us. Thus the pain that came with watching the rapid approach of the Wallow fire’s undiscerning flames… and since October’s incursion by a bulldozer through the canyon, the underlying anxiety that comes with waiting for the “other shoe to drop” (as the saying goes, and just the expression come from, anyway?). As many of you read earlier, our proud anti-federalist county chose the historic trail down this sensitive river canyon to challenge the government’s restricting of vehicle access in public forests. Like the hero of the Milagro Beanfield War, they scraped at the river crossings and left tracks meant to demonstrate who the heck has sovereignty, the agencies of the United States or the residents of Catron County. The government response is an ongoing investigation by more agencies than I can name, charged with protection of water quality, archaeological sites, wildlife and more, and on top of however many lawsuits and cease and desist requests they’ve inspired. The first of November I raised in the local newspaper an issue that no one seemed to be talking about, which is the violation of private property that occurred during this anti-federal demonstration, including our Sanctuary here, and how private property rights are as American a principle as personal liberty. Only a short while before, a county commissioner had publicly admonished people to do whatever the wanted in regards to the road issue here, likely leading to a local club offroad club pulling out a no trespass post and driving into the sanctuary. And likely led also to someone having dragged logs into the trail to cause us difficulty. While we teach our child the realities of history, lay out the magazine to be as beautiful as we can imagine, finally get around to straining our medicinal tinctures, and do all we can to make the world a more healthful and response-able place, we do with the added stress of watching for what we might face next.
One of the more difficult aspects is income, as for all so called civilized peoples. It is hard for everyone we know to get enough money coming in to survive, often in order to be giving time freely to a place, people or cause. None can escape the requirement in this society for at least a certain amount of income, no matter how differently and more simply we live than the bankers and top 5% that get away with 80% of the wealth. For us at Anima (first named “Duration Ranch” because of my love for Paladin type cowboy characters and the fact that I was staying for the duration of my life), the struggle is how difficult it can be to make enough to pay not for our personal needs so much as for all that we are trying to accomplish. Yes, to survive this wild rural lifestyle,with expected dental and medical needs with no heath insurance, repairs and improvements to the sanctuary infrastructure, but most importantly to build the conference and courses, print the new books waiting, and thus have an impact on the course of the world… with our work offered at a sliding scale and only 2 consistent (and ever so appreciated) supporters able to send any monthly assistance to the project.
Part of what we need for our own balance is buying a little time, which can come in part from seeking (and accepting!) assistance. Much of what we do requires us along, but there are other areas that require skilled efforts without our personal touch, and it is making a difference to have Resolute taking care of all that she does for Anima and TWHC on to of her own worries and work. The outreach help of Katja and Sean, our conference extensions and reps. Lauren and Asa taking on the job of proofing, which can make such a difference to writing’s clarity as well as appearance. And it seems that at least one and maybe more helpers are still coming for the live-in position we advertised, which will make it possible for the Trail Boss to see our fire fighting and water cache system completed, an outdoor overhang kitchen for Loba, maintenance on the cabins. With more assistance and alliance, aides or staff dedicated at least in part to sharing these tasks and goals, we may yet find time… not to fill with yet more exciting projects, but to take those nutritive and sense awakening walks on the river we tend and protect.
The immediate strategy, however, is more a matter of 1. Prioritization, daily determining what is most important, pertinent to our purpose, effective and especially timely. 2. Less email, facebook or other interfacing if possible, with more blogs and articles. 3. A fierceness of focus, following elements through to completion more than multi tasking. And 4. Even with that degree of focus and determination, to always, all-ways, remain engaged with the physical world, noticing the songs of the birds outside the window as well as the possible crunch and hum of a vehicle’s approach, the dance of the leaves in the wind as well as (not just following) our attention to the dance of words on the page. We are not relaxed, as Lauren hoped, but we are as you wished, indeed “playing, enjoying the company of loved ones, creating spontaneously, listening quietly to the voice of life in this moment.”
Our friend 7Song wondered how Kiva can accomplish so much and still notice the little things in life. It comes not from a healthy making of time for wandering and paying attention, but from training ourselves to notice the richness of form and nuances of meaning, in spite of all the important tasks which those trying to help the world know must be done. And not just taking satisfaction in moments of looking away from our work, but in finding ways to notice and savor even while meaningfully busy. The balance between gifting and receiving can be achieved through alternating from one to the other, or by accomplishing and experiencing both concurrently.
As I wrote recently to our friend and aide Katja, even the efforts to relax and enjoy are a “doing”… hence, let us do well.
(Post and Forward Freely)